'The Expendables:' Over-The-Hill Bad Boys?

It's just not summer without a bunch of big action movies — and having a big Sylvester Stallone action flick is a bonus. That's what arrives in theaters this weekend. The Expendables star a mini-pantheon of aging action heroes led by Stallone.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And now for a big action movie that boasts the name of one old guy everyone has heard of. Sylvester Stallone's latest film, "The Expendables," arrives at a theater near you this weekend. Critic Kenneth Turan has our review.

KENNETH TURAN: How expendable is "The Expendables"? That depends on who you are and why you're asking.

If you want to see old-fashioned Sylvester Stallone-style mayhem, co-written, directed by and starring the man himself, nothing I can say will stop you.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Expendables")

Unidentified Man (Actor): (as character) Bring the money here now!

Mr. SYLVESTER STALLONE (Actor): (as Barney Ross): You want the money?

TURAN: "The Expendables," in case you couldn't guess, are top-of-the-line mercenaries whose motto is: If the money's right, we don't care what the job is. They're also the kind of guys who trade witticisms before blowing Somali pirates out of the water.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Expendables")

Unidentified Actor: (as character): Drop your guns!

Mr. STALLONE (As Barney Ross): I want you to take the two on the right and leave the rest alone.

Mr. JASON STATHAM (Actor): (as Lee Christmas) You should take the two on the right. I'm not that fast anymore.

Mr. STALLONE (As Barney Ross): Bullets go faster than blades. The only thing faster is light.

Mr. STATHAM: (as Lee Christmas) We'll see.

TURAN: This film has so many action stars, they're listed by last name on the theatrical posters, like a high-powered team of urologists. These include Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham and Jet Li, who tells Stallone what he really needs is a raise in pay.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Expendables")

Mr. JET LI (Actor): (as Ying Yang) I need more money.

Mr. STALLONE: (as Barney Ross) Why is that?

Mr. LI: (as Ying Yang) I work harder than the rest.

Mr. STALLONE: (as Barney Ross) No, you don't.

Mr. LI: (as Ying Yang) Yes, I do. Everything's harder for me because I'm smaller and more trouble(ph). I need to go farther.

Mr. STALLONE: (as Barney Ross) I know, because you're smaller, right?

Mr. LI: (as Ying Yang) Yes.

TURAN: The job the Expendables accept has them disguised as members of the Global Wildlife Conservancy on a visit to a mythical South American island named Vilena. Besides old-school action and bracing explosions, this is the kind of film that features lines like don't talk to me, cockroach, and friends don't let friends die alone. For "The Expendables" would have you understand that they are not just behemoths with biceps as big as the Ritz. They have hearts and souls and, yes, tarnished ideals they are all too eager to tell you about.

Friends may not let friends die alone, but bogus philosophizing is business as usual for these over-the-hill bad boys.

MONTAGNE: The movie is "The Expendables." Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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